Mr. Robot: eps1.5_br4ve-trave1er.asf

“I feel the sensation. Fight or flight. It’s constant. I should just pick one. I, Elliot Alderson, am flight. I am fear. I am anxiety, terror, panic.”

We’re presented with a familiar scenario this time around. The villain has taken the hero’s girl, and now the hero’s got to get her back. This being Mr. Robot, it doesn’t go quite as planned.

Elliot is put in dire straits when Fernando Vera has his brother Isaac and henchman DJ kidnap Shayla. Vera wants Elliot to use his skills to hack him out of prison in one night.

Very reluctantly, Elliot agrees. This means having to put up with Vera’s men not only threatening him, but Darlene and very nearly Angela too. Pulling out all the stops and taking all the risks, Elliot realizes how badly this situation could turn out for him no matter what happens. Even as Mr. Robot drops in to tell him what he already knows, Elliot refuses to give up on Shayla.

After this encounter, he becomes properly motivated to not only get Vera out of prison, but also making sure that he has security to prevent him from killing Elliot and Shayla when it’s done.

The plan comes together even further when Vera’s brother Isaac attempts to execute Elliot, revealing that Vera blames Isaac for getting locked up. After a eureka moment, Elliot manages to convince Isaac to work with him to spring Vera and then kill him in the confusion.

The plan works. Elliot is able to unlock all the cell doors at once and causing a power failure in the prison, and Vera makes it out. And he immediately has Isaac killed by DJ. He then rubs in Elliot’s face the fact that destroying his empire means nothing, since Vera’s already escaped and Isaac is the perfect scapegoat for his crimes. Then he reveals that Shayla was dead in Isaac’s trunk the whole time.

Not only did Elliot’s attempt to save the girl set free an insane freak like Vera, but he let an entire prison full of hardened criminals loose on society. And it was all for nothing. Mr. Robot was right again. It was a zero-sum game.

This episode title refers to the meaning of Vera’s first name, as Vera himself explains. He states that the word “brave” evolved from the word “savage” and seems to suggest that there is no difference between the two.

Elliot’s actions in this episode seem to confirm this in a rather messed up way. In his quest to save Shayla and outsmart Vera and his accomplices, he is being brave. The methods he uses to achieve those goals are ultimately savage, though. This is why Elliot makes such a compelling anti-hero.

Bits and Pieces:

* We see the fallout of Tyrell’s decision to approach Sharon Knowles in her bathroom when he attempts to chum it up with Scott at Evil Corp. It completely backfired, as Sharon told Scott what he did, resulting in Scott dressing Tyrell down most viciously in a spacious boardroom. He doesn’t stop until he sees Tyrell’s smug face turn into a frown. It’s a prime example of the dog-eat-dog corporate world. Tyrell, as you can imagine, was not pleased. However, his wife seems to think that he can still use Sharon to his advantage.

* Meanwhile, Angela is building a case against Evil Corp and contacting the lawyers who worked on the Washington Township Toxic Waste Scandal. Despite her hard work, the one lawyer who agreed to speak with her is more than a little cynical and dismissive of the idea of taking on something that powerful. She’s still determined, though, and, after Elliot tells her what she wants to hear, she gets the idea to seek out ex-CTO Terry Colby in the hopes of convincing to act as a witness against Evil Corp. It doesn’t go well, since she is too intimidated to even speak to him when she goes to confront him.

* That lawyer, Antara Nayar, was amusingly downtrodden, representing a guy who caved his girlfriend’s head in with an Xbox and brushing off Angela’s passionate crusade against Evil Corp because she would rather hear about her personal life.

* Terry Colby is still a huge dick. I can tell you, that’s not changing. And his son seems to be just as bad.

* Something I noticed while watching the show is that all of the main characters have very big, expressive eyes: Elliot, Angela, Darlene, Tyrell and Joanna. Even Christian Slater’s eyes look bigger when he’s wearing those glasses. They’re used to great effect; they make Elliot and Angela look so vulnerable, and Tyrell and Joanna so damn creepy.

* This episode probably has my favorite ending of the season. The way it was filmed, Rami Malek’s acting, the way the siren just sort of merges with the eerie soundtrack. It’s so chaotic.

Quotes:

Elliot: Hello?
Vera: The origin of your name. I looked it up for you, bro.
Elliot: Where are you taking her?
Vera: “Elliot”: “brave and true.” Did you know that the word “brave” evolved from “savage.”
Elliot: I don’t know what you think this is about, but you need to let her go.
Vera: Yo, funny thing. My name means something similar. “Brave traveler”, “adventurer.” “Savage traveler” becomes “brave traveler.” Are we savages or are we brave? I don’t know, bro.

Elliot: You’re asking the impossible!
Vera: When we cross paths tonight, Elliot, I’m a hug you.
Elliot: Please listen, man. Yo, Shayla… this is on me. Okay? You’ve gotta let her go.
Vera: Oh, that? She cool, bro. Trust me, she cool. She’ll be there tonight too. It’ll be one big happy happy (psycho laugh). Hey, Elliot? I love you, bro.
I’m kind of glad Vera’s gone (for now…), because he was a little too crazy for comfort. Like the sort of guy Tuco from Breaking Bad would hang out with.

Angela: You’ll see that I have the evidence from the data-dumps, along with further research.
Antara Nayar: Stickies! Oh, and you’ve highlighted and underlined. This is serious. (pulls a huge bottle of whiskey from a desk drawer)

Nayar: Where are you working these days? You have a boyfriend? How’s your dad?
Angela: I work for a company that doesn’t respect me, my boyfriend recently cheated on me, and my father is drowning in debt…

Scott: Did you enjoy the view… What? Did you think she wouldn’t tell me?
Tyrell: … I’m not sure what you’re try—
Scott: (stands) You wanna watch me piss too? I’ve had several glasses of water.
Tyrell: Scott, a misunderstand—
Scott: Happy to pull my dick out for you, if that’s your thing: watching the Knowles family urinate (unzips his pants). Hell, I could fly my brother in from Miami. He has the bladder of a small child. You’d probably bust a nut watching him take a leak.
So unexpected. I laughed a lot the first time I watched this.

Tyrell: (wrecks his kitchen in a tantrum, background)
Joanna: (calmly eating, foreground) Do you understand why you’re angry? Because you know I’m right.
I wonder how many couples found this scene familiar.

Mr. Robot: There is no plan where both you and Shayla survive.
Elliot: … I can think of a way.
Mr. Robot: This new world that we are so close to creating will never be. That new world? That is success. Fsociety is success! Look at what you accomplished at Steel Mountain.
Elliot: That got us nowhere!
Mr. Robot: You took them down! You won that battle. This, this is failure. This is the old Elliot. The one who turns to morphine, to drugs when he feels weak. A coward who can’t see the truth, even though it’s staring him right in the face.
Elliot: (narrating) There’s that sensation again. Fight or flight. Three lives at stake, including my own. I, Elliot Alderson, am… what?

Elliot: I hacked Isaac’s phone. He had everything. Your crew, shipments, the entire operation. I took it all. I own your whole world.
His plan backfires spectacularly, but this is still a great moment when you think Elliot’s got the upper hand and wipes the dopey grin off Vera’s face.

Elliot: (narrating with a gun to his head) I suppose a bullet through the brain is peaceful in its own right.

I like that this episode was more focused and that the stakes were much higher. The climax alone gets it up to four huge bottles of whiskey.

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

It's been happening all along, but this was the episode where I really focused in on how the title card is too big for the frame, how off center the camera angles are, and how discordant the score. That scene at the end where an incredibly upset Elliot walked around the trunk of the car without looking inside it was so effective. Poor Shayla. So sad.

Logan, I liked what you said about Vera being the kind of guy who would hang out with Tuco. Tuco always freaked me out.

This series may be too raw for me. But I'm definitely seeing it through until the end.

Heather said...

Logan,
Your review is a great read, thanks! This show is really gritty. The language -- good god. There are times I can't believe USA's standards and practices office is even awake.
I think Vera is a more compelling villian than Tyrell. Also I love, love, love the score and the soundtrack.

Logan Cox said...

Heather, thank you for your comments. This show baffles me a lot too. I do my best to address it and all its complexities. Still, feel like there are a lot of layers I simply do not understand. It's easy to get bogged down by the lingo. Watching it twice, I understand what's happening a lot easier.

I completely agree about that last scene, Billie. It's a gut-punch that just slowly overwhelms the viewer the same way it does Elliot. Shayla will indeed be missed. The only thing I know her actress, Frankie Shaw, from is a football comedy show called Blue Mountain State. Good to see she can do heavier material as well, even while playing a slightly similar character.

And yes, Vera is more a striking villain than I ever thought he would be; he would chew Tyrell up and spit him out. I said I thought he was gone "for now" in my review, but I think it would be cruel (and realistic) if we never saw him again and he just got off scot-free.